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Crohns disease

General characteristics

General characteristics

Crohn's disease is classified as an inflammatory condition affecting mainly the small and/or large intestines.
During an attack of Crohn's sections of the intestinal wall become tender and inflamed. Absorption of nutrients is often compromised so effort should be made to get proper and adequate nutrition at all times. For example, anaemia is common in people with Crohn's disease. The entire thickness of the intestinal walls are involved and can often become ulcerated leading to stricture, or a decrease in the diameter of the intestinal passages. Symptoms include diarrhoea, pain, blood in the stools, fatigue and weight loss. Long periods of time can pass before such an 'attack' occurs, which is sometimes triggered by certain foods or stress.
It is not known what causes Crohn's disease but several factors have been suggested as contributing such as an over active immune response, genetic disposition, viral or bacterial infection, living in a rich country (it is virtually unknown in poorer countries), a diet high in refined sugars, habitual use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) smoking and unbalanced bowel bacteria.
Herbs, diet and natural healing aim to alleviate symptoms, heal intestinal lesions, promote nutrient absorption and prevent future 'attacks'.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Dietary regimes for Crohns disease will differ and vary from person to person but if your diagnosis is recent, you will probably have been advised to keep food bland, simple and to avoid certain foods such as dairy to begin with. A good idea is to start eating very plain foods like porridge and liquidised soups for instance and gradually introduce different foods one at a time so that you have an idea of things that aggravate and things that are well tolerated.

Do not smoke.

Use turmeric in your daily cooking for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Take a daily dose of flaxseed oil or any other plant seed oil such as evening primrose or hemp. Fish oils are also useful for their anti-inflammatory action.

Avoid all junk foods and drinks and adopt a diet based on fresh wholefoods.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Put 3 drops each of oregon grape root (or barberry) plus yellow dock root tinctures in a small glass of water and take 3 times daily during an attack.
Wild yam is a good anti-inflammatory for the digestive tissue, use a teaspoon of the tincture in water 3 times daily
Marshmallow root, chamomile, irish moss and slippery elm powders will provide a slimy mucilage which coats the intestinal walls and protects and soothes ulcerated and sore areas during an active attack. Use equal parts of the powders and add a heaped tablespoon to a glass, add enough water to make a thin paste and drink or eat the paste 4 times a day.
Eat a small fresh comfrey leaf daily for its tissue regenerating effects, or take a cup of the tea when flare ups occur.
Feed and relax the nervous system using herbs such as hops, valerian, skullcap, chamomile and lemon balm as a tea or tincture mix.
Fenugreek seeds are nutritive, mucilaginous, support the cleansing processes and have excellent tissue healing properties. Use a teaspoon of crushed seeds per cup, stand for at least 10 minutes and drink a cup before meals every day, during an attack and as a preventative.
The bitter herb wormwood has shown good promise , when coupled with cardamon seeds, as a remedy for Crohns disease.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Taking a good quality probiotic daily will enhance the beneficial bacteria in the bowel and help ensure proper absorption of nutrients as well as encourage effective immunity. Products containing lactobacilli, cider vinegar and the product 'molkosan' will all give benefit.
Stress is often a causative factor in flare-ups so consider taking up relaxing pursuits such as meditation, tai chi, qi gong etc.

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